Faith Healer: An Introduction to the Sensational Alex Harvey Band
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With so many compilations (vinyl and CD) already on the market, it was refreshing to come across one that did not treat the Sensational Alex Harvey Band as some kind of novelty rock jukebox, committed to nothing more pressing than a succession of idiosyncratic cover versions (most of them culled from The Penthouse Tapes). Indeed, Faith Healer seemingly goes out of its way to avoid that impression, eschewing even the hits "Delilah" and "Runaway" in favor of some of the lesser-trawled corners of the SAHB songbook. Of course a handful of expected nuggets are included, but both Jacques Brel's "Next" and the Cabaret showstopper "Tomorrow Belongs to Me" became such integral cornerstones of the Harvey legend that they might as well have been original compositions. (The same can be said for "Framed.") Elsewhere, however, "Sirocco" and "Sultan's Choice" spiral unexpectedly from SAHB Stories; an oddly but effectively truncated "Isabel Goudie" and the immortal "Tomahawk Kid" illustrate Harvey at his most literate; and "Faith Healer" is drawn from the Live album to remind listeners why, in its prime, this was one of the greatest live bands you could hope to see. There are even a couple of tracks from the usually ignored Rock Drill album to ensure that each of the band's albums is granted some coverage, to create a disc that might not represent the best of the Sensational Alex Harvey Band, but is certainly representative.